Total Depravity: 6. Can a person please God?

How to Please God

please GodPlease God. The root issue here in total depravity is whether a person or a thing please God. It would behoove us to search the Scriptures to see if there are verses that speak of something pleasing God, and note the circumstances.

1Sam 12:22

1Sam 12:22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.

What we see here is that it pleased God to make Israel “his people.”

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2Sam 7:28-29

2Sam 7:28 And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: 29 Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

1Kgs 3:10-12

1Kgs 3:10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. 11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

Ps 51:19

Ps 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

The Calvinist says “nothing man can do pleases God”. This is just not so. If God is pleased WITH man’s righteousness, and the Calvinist denies that wholeheartedly, the Calvinist teaches others a false teaching that works directly against God. The core of Total Depravity is nothing can please God. Righteousness, or doing and being righteous, is what pleases God. Do you see how Calvinism teaches to opposite of the Bible. Rather than teaching people that there is nothing a person can do to please God (Total Depravity), why not teach that when a person is righteous, this pleases God? (the biblical position)

Eccl 7:26; Prov 16:7

When we teach that unilaterally there is nothing man can do that pleases God, we presume that God is displeased WITH EVERYTHING WE DO. This is just not so.

Eccl 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

Prov 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. 7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

These verses are predicated on the fact that a man’s ways or life can be pleasing unto the Lord. Does every single man in the world fall prey to a harlot? No. I am sorry but that is just not the reality we all live. Many men do fall, but in reality, the godly Christian usually does not fall. The reason he doesn’t fall is because God is pleased with his life and God protects that man from wicked women (in a general sense, not in every particular case).

Does every single person in the world have his enemies at war with him? No. Again, a good Christian will show that this is not true, because he is not contentious, and God preserves him from constant fighting with his neighbor.

John the Baptist Mat 12:18 “in whom my soul is well pleased”

Matt 12:18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 

It is difficult to corroborate the Calvinist position when there are many verses that speak of men pleasing God. But beyond these causal mentions, there are very special servants of God that dedicated their lives to serving God, and in whom, God was “well pleased”. How do you as a Calvinist explain God’s commentary on John the Baptist’ life and ministry in light of total depravity.

By saying that what is in man (his will, actions, desires) is TOTALLY unacceptable before God in any given case, you work against clear Scripture that states exactly the opposite. Does it not shame a Calvinist to read these verses and realize that some man in the Bible did something that pleased God?

The Calvinist argument or counter to this is that what is in man is totally displeasing to God, but God’s Holy Spirit works something that is pleasing in man. Okay. Let’s run with that one for a bit. If that is true, and it is true that God works in man through his Holy Spirit, who is credited? Man or God? God is the end source of all goodness, I can accept that. But God gives man the credit and glory when he acts righteously, because he decided to follow God’s leading into righteousness. It is unbiblical to speak of this in any way except as God speaks of it.

What or how to please God

Psa 40:13 Delivering people.

Ps 51:19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. 

Ps 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. Ps 69:31 This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. Ps 69:32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.

Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 

Ezek 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 

Ezek 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 

1Cor 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 

If preaching salvation pleases God, then you do Calvinists work against this?

1Cor 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

If we follow the Calvinist’s logic, then there is no reason to expend energy towards pleasing God because no matter how you try, nothing you do will please God. This seems so out of place and foreign in this passage. An unmarried person is a person (who if he so desires) can dedicate his whole life to pleasing God. The two positions (Paul’s view in 1Cor 7:32 and Total Depravity) are totally exclusive one of the other. Which do you want to believe? Consider another similar verse.

Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ

What we see here is again, Paul set his whole life and career to be pleasing to God. If Paul thought that nothing, absolutely nothing he would do would please God, why would he dedicate his life to that? It doesn’t make sense if you look at these verses from the Calvinist position.

1Thess 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 

Eph 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 


How much evidence needs to be heaped up before a person understands that some particular conduct DOES PLEASE GOD?

1Thess 4:1Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 

2Tim 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier

1Thess 2:12 ​That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 

Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 

Paul taught his people “how to please God” by teaching them “how they ought to walk” in this life. According to Paul’s understanding, there was a “walk worthy of God” (acceptable and pleasing in his sight) and it was fully possible for Paul’s followers to achieve. So why the assault (total depravity) on this walk and on even its existence? This is the work of the enemy, Satan.

What becomes abundantly clear when I read Calvinist’s teaching on Total Depravity is that they constantly repeat over and over again that nothing we do can ever please God. Of course they don’t come right out and say the conclusion, “SO DON’T WORRY ABOUT PLEASING GOD”, but they might as well.

I contrast this highly with the Apostle Paul. He put forth before his people the goal of pleasing God. Does the Calvinist do this when he teaches 7 ways from Sunday that everybody is totally depraved? Can you really accept Total Depravity as being biblical?



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